A builder's "truly exceptionally bad" failure to protect his workers and secure the area around a garage he was employed to demolish led to one of his workers being crushed to death by falling masonry, a court has heard.

Paramjit Singh is on trial at Winchester Crown Court accused of the manslaughter by gross negligence of 64-year-old Kulwant Singh Athwal, from Southampton.

Shauna Ritchie, prosecuting, said that the 48-year-old defendant had been employed to clear rubble and demolish the garage from the property in Ling Dale, Chilworth, Hampshire, in July, 2019.

She said that Singh used a digger to demolish the roof and three walls on July 15 and returned the following day to take down the final wall.

Ms Ritchie said that Singh, who employed four men on site, had been using the mini-excavator inside the remainder of the garage moments before the wall collapsed on to Mr Singh Athwal.

She said: "The precise mechanism of the collapse of that wall is not known, what is known is that falling mechanism struck Kulwant Singh Athwal and caused him the catastrophic crush injuries that caused his death."

Police at the scene

Police at the scene

She said that a section of the wall that had fallen weighed 167kg (307lbs).

Ms Ritchie said that Singh was arrested and in his interview with police said "he was deeply shocked and saddened by the death" but added that he did not know how Mr Singh had died.

She said that the defendant had failed to take precautions to protect his four workers on the site, including fencing off the danger area, putting up warning signs and carrying out a survey of the building prior to demolition.

The only step he had taken was to verbally advise one of his crew to stay two metres away from the garage site, she added.

Ms Ritchie told the jury: "There were simple and effective steps that should have been taken by the defendant.

"Paramjit Singh appreciated the dangers of the work he was undertaking and he took none of these steps.

"It's the prosecution case he was grossly negligence, his negligence was truly exceptionally bad that it was criminal and he was therefore guilty of the manslaughter of Kulwant Singh Athwal."

Singh, from Southampton, has pleaded guilty to two Health and Safety at Work Act offences but denies his actions were negligent to the extent that he was guilty of manslaughter.

The trial continues.